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R ADO M f R P LEI N E R, Archaeological Institute, Prague
In memoriam of Prof. M. Radwan
n August 1964 smelting experiments on the bloomery process were carried out at the expedition of the Archaeological Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (Prague) at B!·ezno. This operation, organized on Czechoslovak territory for the first time, took place in the third season of the program of Czechoslovak-Polish cooperation in this field. Previous work took place in Cracow, Poland in 19601 and in Nowa Slupia in the same country in 1962. Some additional smeltings were organized by the Polish workers at the same locality in subsequent years.s The Polish part of the project was directed specifically at the metallurgy of the Roman period in so-called "Germania lib era" (bowl-shaft furnaces of the late La Tene type). The smelting experiment at Brezno, on the contrary, was devoted first of all to early Slavic iron metallurgy; its purpose was to test an iron-smelting furnace of the type used in the 8th century A. D. Experimental smeltings were made in several countries just before the Czechoslovak-Polish project;" other tests were carried out simultaneously.! and further experiments were noted even after our program was finished. 5 The purpose of all this work was to verify different reconstructions of the early metallurgical processes which had been deduced from the interpretation of many archaeological and analytic findings, and thus to make more exact our knowledge of the whole bloomery process.
1. R. Pleiner - M. Radwan, Polsko-czechoslowackie doswiadczenia wytopu zelaza w dymarkach z okresu rzymskiego (Polnisch-tschechoslowakische Versuche zum Eisenschmelzen in Schmelz ofen aus der rornischen Periode), Kwartalnik Historii N auki i Techniki 7 1962, 307; 320; M. Radwan - R. Pleiner, Polnisch-tschechoslowakische Schmelzversuche in den Rennofen der romischen Bauarten, AR XV 1963. 47-71. 2. M, Radwan, Dalsze probne wytopy w pieczykach typu Swietokrzyskiego (res. Further experimental smeltings in furnaces of Holy-Cross-Mountain Type), Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki 9 1964, 365-373; A. Mazur - E. Nosek, Od rudy do noza (res. A partir du minerai jusqu'au couteau) 7 1966, 19-38. 3. J. Sadzot, Les debuts de la fabrication du fer, Industrie - Revue de la federation des industries Belges, 10 1959/9, 564---571; published experiments of J. W. Gilles and R. F. Tylecote cf.!vI. Radwan - R. Pleiner 1963, note 2. 4. Cf. M. Radwan - R. Pleiner 1963 (supplement); published by B. A. Koliin - O. Ju. Krug, Fiziceskoje modelirovanije syrodutnogo process a proizvodstva zeleza (Physical Models of the Bloomery Process; in Russian), Archeologija i jestestvennyje nauki, Moskva 1965, 196-215; A. Rjazanceu, Pokusno taljenje bobovca v vetrni peci v Studorju (res. Probeschmelzung von Bohnerz im Windofen in Studor), Zelezar - Technicna priloga Zelczarne Jesenice IV/2 1962, 14-24; A. Rjazanceo, Drugo pokusno taljenje bobovca na Usejci nad vasjo Studor (res. Zweite Versuchsschmelzung von Bohnerz auf Usejca ober dem DorfStudor), ibidem V/2 1962,85-97; H. Straube - B. Tarmann - E. Pliickinger, Erzreduktionsversuche in Rennofen norischer Bauart, Klagenfurt 1964; H. Straube, Erzreduktionsversuche in Schachtoren norischer Bauart an Magdalensberg, Beitrage zur Geschichte des Eisens irn alpenlandischen Raum, Sep. VDE(h) No. 57 (GeschichtsausschuB Dusseldorf 1965?); R. Thomsen, Forsog pi rekonstruktion af en fortidig jernudvindingsproces (Trial reconstruction of an early process of iron extraction), Kuml 1963, 60-74; in 1963 I assisted at an improvised experiment with a hearth pit in Sweden directed by Prof. S. Eketorp - the yield of metal was very low with transition into pig iron. Not yet published. 5. Prof. Tylecote informed me about an experiment with a shaft of the type Ashwicken (England); from Hungary announced a trial smelt E. Zoltay,' a trial smelt took place once more at Kungliska Tekniska Hogskolan, too, cf. H. Hagfeldt, Reduktions forsok i blasta, Stockholm 1966.
Fig. 1. Panorama tical view on the experimental bloomery at Brezno 1964. Furnaces of the Slav type are built-in, a Roman period shaft furnace behind.
The bloomery process must be considered as the classical and original method of iron extraction. A very long and important part of the evolution of iron extraction is represented by this art, which - under European conditions - was the only practical way to obtain this useful metal. The product of the bloomery process was subsequently processed into various modifications of wrought iron and wrought steel. Research on this early industrial process is also of interest in the science of metallurgy. The organization of the 1964 project was entrusted to the care of the Archaeological Institute in Prague, and in particular to the author of the present report. This institution granted financial and personal support to Dr. R. Pleiner and to the two chemists Dr. J. Pelikan and Mr. C. Sedird. The Polish participants were Dr. M. Radwan, Dr. K. Bielenin and Mrs. E. Nosek (the latter two of the Archaeological Museum in Cracow). The Institute of Iron Metallurgy, Prague, also lent its support in the persons of Ing .. M. Hayer, MM. 1. Fischer and M. Pospisil, who tended the apparatus lent by the Institute. The analyses of the various samples taken during field operations were made in Prague in 1965 and 1967 at the chemical laboratory of the Archaeological Institute and at the metallographicallaboratory of the Institute for Testing Materials (microphotographs, microhardness tests). 2. The purpose of the 1964 proj ect
Except for the collection of general observations, the main aim of this work was to answer . several questions about early medieval Slavic metallurgy: 1. To test the built-in furnace of the Zelechovice type (Northern Moravia, 8th century A. D.);6
6. R. Pleiner, Vyroba zeleza ve slovanske huti u Zelechovic na Unicovsku (res. Eisengewinnung in einer slawischen
2. To explain the function of the special cavity or hole in the back of the furnace (which had hypothetically been related to the production of steel [carburized iron]) ; 3. To test-forge the product after removal from the hearth; 4. To weld together small loose metal particles from the main sponge.
-++FURN,/J,CE I 1
r---------'lO '" I appar~tus 1 FURNACEII 1. I
I I I
Fig. 2. Disposition of the experimental bloomery.
As a complementary program we planned a smelting in the low-shaft bowl furnace of the Scharmbeck type (northwest Germany), which is similar to other types offurnaces usually employed
Huttenanlage in Zelechovice bei Unicov), Rozpravy GSAV, Praha 1955; R. Plainer, Zaklady slovanskeho zelezarskeho hutnictvi v ceskych zernich (Die Grundlagen der slavischen Eisenindustrie in den Bohmischen Landern), Praha 1958, 208-224. 7. W. Wegewitz, Ein Rennfeuerofen aus einer Siedlung der alteren Rornerzeit in Scharmbeck (Kreis Hamburg), Nachrichten aus Niedersachsens Urgeschichte 26 1957, 3-25.
in German, Polish and Czechoslovak territories during the first four centuries A. D. The objects of this smelting were: 1. To test the smelt in this very thin-walled furnace ;" 2. To discover if this low furnace (height 100 cm) could be operated by induced draught (the original furnace had four small holes just at the bottom of the shaft) ; 3. To obtain more information about the reduction of phosphorus and its partition between the slag and metal in the bloomery process.
I I I
Fig. 3. Profile of the Slavic furnace of the type Zelechovice prepared for the smelt r1.2. On the right hand: the position of the metallic bloom in the cavity during the process.
The Zelechovice-type furnaces were built into the ground; the whole bloomery was made in the shape of a rectangular trench (13 X 2 m in length, 80-110 cm deep). From the strip just behind this trench humus had been removed (13 X 5 m). The bloomery had a north-south orientation and faced west. On the west side there was a wide slanting entrance in the very middle of the bloomery, with steps on both sides and an approach ramp. Charcoal piles and a place for hot-drying the ore were situated to the left of the entrance; to the right there were roasting hearths. At the back edge of the trench three furnaces of the Zelechovice type had been built. One of them (no. IV) was destined for testing the building and air circulation; the others (I and II) served for the smelting tests. Measuring bunkers were dug out in the backs of these furnaces and from there the furnace control points were manipulated. On the upper platform, between furnaces I and II, furnace III (Scharrnbeck) had been erected. The bellows moved along the same platform on which the charges were prepared (Figure 1 and 2). The measuring apparatus was placed on a desk between furnaces I and II. Five compressed-air bottles were available in case the bellows or their power supply failed. 3.1. The building of thefurnaces. The main subjects of the experimental smelting were the two built-in furnaces reproduced from originals discovered at Zelechovice, North Moravia." Their
8. This furnace imitated on his own, but quite in the same manner R. Thomsen) Denmark, cf. R. Thomsen 1963 note 4. New experiments in the same type w re carried out in 1968 (Varde). 9. I dated originally the battery from Zelechovice (according to the pottery) to the end of the 8th or to the beginning of the 9th cent. This dating accepted J. Eisner) Die Entwicklung der slawischen Keramik in Bohrnen in der mittleren Burgwallzeit, Prahist, Zeitschrift 37 1959, 211-218, cf. 211, table 1. He denied thus the opinion of J. Korolec who dated some of the potsherds to the 10th cent. (Archeoloski vestnik 7 1956, 189-190). According to recent excavations carried out in the centres of Southern Moravia, which yielded immense sets of stratified pottery,
't' ¢290 I
L In''' -,
Fig. 4. Roman period shaft furnace of the type Scharmbeck (the shaft is transportable). of the product after the smelt.
On the right hand the position
the belonging of the pottery from the iron works of Zelechovice to the pre-Great Moravian horizon becomes gradually more evident, i.e. the date being rather the 8th cent. than the turn of the 8th and 9th centuries. The conclusions of K. Cernohorskj) who still in 1960 tried to date the majority of the pottery from Zelechovice about the year 900 and some of the potsherds even to the II th cent. (K datovanf keramiky od zelezarskych peci v Zelechovidch - Zur Datierung der Kerarnik vom Eisenhuttenwerk in Zelechovice, Pam. arch. LI/I 1960, 388-405), are therefore stupefying. When registrating the inventory of the Museum in Olomouc (this museum took all materials from Unicov over) there was found a little case containing further pottery finds from the iron works. These finds made during K. Schmirmeisen's not published excavations of the iron works bear literally an ancient character; in Moravia would hardly anybody place them later than the year 800. The dating of the iron works shows rather a sinking tendency; all conclusions of the present report point therefore to the pre-Great Moravian period of the Slav history on our territory.
construction, dimensions, and the composition of their refractory linings are well kncwn.P Furnace no. XXV served as the prototype. The dimensions of the furnaces were: height 90 em (shaft and hearth 85 em), throat diameter 35 em, shaft bottom diameter 15 em, length (cavity included) 147 em, tunnel length 36 em, tuyere diameter 4 em, inclination of the tuyere axis 65°. These dimensions differed slightly after finishing (Figure 5). Furnace II was a little lower, and its tunnel and cavity were a little wider. The tunnel of this furnace was shortened before smelting no. 2 took place (Figure 3). Furnace IV was used for preliminary experiments with the building style and air circulation; later on it served as a drying furnace. Furnaces I and II were each equipped with three control holes, inclined at about 15° and positioned on the south side (Figure 5). Each hole was designed to allow measurements in three different positions: (A) at the shaft axis, (B) in the middle ofthe shaft radius and (C) at the furnace wall.
Fig. 5. Section of the Slavic furnace of the type Zelechovice I after the smelt. This smelt was not successful. The figure shows the lining of the shaft. 1-3, a-c controll points.
Construction of the Zelechovice-type furnaces continued as follows: a slightly inclined conical shaft, tunnel and back cavity were dug out in the loess soil. The tuyere hole was drilled by means of an iron tube; this tube was left in place. Wooden pegs were then put in the inside of the shaft to hold the heavy wet lining (2 parts clay, 1 part loess and 1 part sand) on the wall. The inside was faced with pure sand (which proved to be excellent and very refractory). The lining was tamped down with a beam. A very moderate wood fire placed before the tunnel entrance dried the furnace. Furnace III (Scharmbeck type) was of the so-called "semi-bowl" construction, equipped with a low clay shaft (the original is dated as 2nd century A. D.). This shaft was very thin, light and transportable and was supplied by the Keramo Enterprise. The dimensions of this furnace were: throat diameter 19 em, hearth diameter 34 em, shaft height 100 ern, wall thickness 2 em (5 em in the lower part), diameter of four air holes just at the bottom 3 em. (See Figure 4, however, for differences in the shaft as delivered.) The shaft lining was similar to that of furnaces I and II. 3.2. Blowing. We chose an old blacksmith's bellows, dating from 1792, which was in use until 1900 in the smithy of the village Chlumcany. After repairing it we adapted it for electric drive and, because of its relatively large volume, equipped its mouth with a reducing valve. The bellows had two chambers, with a horizontal position of the disk and vertical displacement. In addition to this bellows five compressed air bottles were at our disposal. It is worth mentioning that two breaks in the power supplyoccurred during our experiments, but that the old bellows never failed!
10. Analyses carried out by M. Bartuika, cf. R. Pleiner 1955, 14--17; M. Bartulka - R. Pleiner, Untersuchungen von Baustoffen und Schlacken aus den fruhgeschichtlichen Rennofen Bohmens und Mahrens, Technische Beitrage zur Archaologie II (Mainz) 1965, 11-14.
According to Z. Dohnal, the charcoal used at the bloomery at Zelechovice was burnt from maple (Acer sp.) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) " lime (Tilia sp.) was also used, but only sporadically. However, these sorts of wood were utilized only occasionally in early metallurgy: in the early medieval bloomeries of central and eastern Europe pine charcoal (Pinus silvestris) prevailed.P For that reason we decided to depart from the original Zelechovice model and to use pine charcoal. We also had a considerable amount of beech charcoal which we had "purchased as a reserve.P
4.1. Burning charcoal. Pine charcoal is not available
in piles is more suitable than that from distillation therefore erected small piles on the site.
on the market; moreover, charcoal burnt retorts for metallurgical experiments.!" We
Fig. 6. Scheme of the small charcoal pile used for tests. 4 horizontal channels, 5 perpendicular shaft between the rods, 6 sand, 7 turf coat and branches, 8 pine logs.
4.1.1. Pile no. 1. In the center of a 2.5-m circle dug in the soil we inserted three 150-cm green rods bound together by several withies to make a vertical ventilation channel. In the bottom three horizontal ventilation channels were made of chopped logs. The pile proper was made of two floors of logs (about 400 kg of wood), height about 140 em and diameter about 200 cm. The pile was covered by green branches and then with turf (Figure 6~8). Crannies were filled up with wet sand. The burning was started by putting the fire into the vertical channel. Horizontal channels at the bottom remained open. After a while these channels closed and the top hole became reduced in diameter. The smoke, previously white, became bluish, signalling the beginning of the carbonization process. It was necessary to watch the cracks in the coat steadily (night and day). By the evening (burning began in the morning) of the first day considerable deformation of the cone was observed. The pile burnt until the morning of the second day, and its height decreased to 100 cm. The operation lasted 47 hours and 30 minutes, and produced 70 kg of very good charcoal (17.5% yield). 4.1.2. Pile no. II. Pile II was built in the same way as I but was a bit larger (dimensions: diameter about 250 em, height 120 cm, charge about 570 kg of wood). This pile burnt for 68 hours and produced 100 kg of charcoal (17.5% yield).
11. R. Pleiner 1958, 68; M, Radwan - K. Bielenin, Iron Smelting in the Swiety Krzyz Mountains at the Beginning of our Era, Kwartalnik Hist. Kult. Mat. 6 1958 (Suppl. Ergon 1),282; newly: M. Radwan, L'ancienne technique siderurgique polonaise, Revue d'histoire de la siderurgie VII 1966-2,63-86, cf. 72. 12. There were at our disposal 50 q of beech charcoal delivered by Druchema, Drstkova in Moravia. 13. According to M. A. Pavlov, Metallurgija cuguna I (Cast Iron Metallurgy), Moscow 1951, 158-163, 184-185, pile burnt charcoal has a considerably higher heating capacity, than retort carbon. I am indebted to Ing. I. KruliiRanda for that information.
4.1.3. Dismantling the piles. After the piles were dismantled carbonized logs were observed which flared up in the open air. It was necessary to spray the coal with sand and water. Only the very ends of the lower logs were uncarbonized. We crushed the charcoal after cooling into pieces of about 4-5 ern, and later on reduced these pieces to 2 ern. 4.2. Yield. From about 970 kg of wood we obtained 170 kg of good pine charcoal. This represents a yield of about 17.5%. A summary of our charcoal manufacture is given in Table 1.
Table I I
of Charcoal Wood kg Final height cm Charcoal kg
5. Raw ma terials
The ore supplied to the Zelechovice-type furnaces was a sort of haematite, very similar to the ore samples found during excavation of the original bloomery. For the Scharmbeck-type furnace we used Kiruna D magnetite with a higher phosphorus content, since we wanted to study the transition of phosphorus into slag and reduced metal. 5.1. Iron ore for the f,elechovice-type furnaces. During the 1950-51 excavation at Zelechovice numerous samples of iron ore were found. It was a rich magnetite-haematite ore of Lahn-Dill type.14 However, the deposit of this sort of ore is now exhausted. Vitkovice Iron Works supplied a similar ore (haematite), very low in Si, low in P and very low in Mn. Table II shows the composition of the Zelechovice iron ore.
Table II Composition of the Zelechovice iron ore
Zelechovice furnace XXI Zelechovice pit no.8 haematite tested
77-59 59·88 91·20 16·22 33·27 0·50 0·03 0·03 tr 0·20 0·11 0·65 2·37 1-45
tr = trace = not determined
5.2. Iron arefor the Scharmbeck-iype furnace. It was stated during the Scharmbeck excavation that bog iron had been used; samples of bog iron were found in a pit, but were not analyzed.P This ore was probably rich in phosphorus, but it was very difficult to secure such an ore in Czechoslovakia, though in Polandjt was no problem. We finally used the Swedish magnetite Kiruna D.
14. Mineralogical evaluation of the ore by
cf. R. Pleiner 1955, 20.
15. W. Wegewitz 1957, 17.
Table III shows the composition of the ore for the Scharmbeck furnace. It is clear that the phosphorus content of the Kiruna D ore is not constant; this sort of raw material was not very good for studying the correlation of phosphorus content in the ore and in the reduced metal.
Table III Composition of the ore for the Scharmbeck furnace
Kiruna D (Vitkovice analysis) KirunaD tested ore (unroasted)
= not determined
5.3. Ore dressing. Both sorts of ore were dried in air for about four hours on a simple brick-andmetal hearth. Large pieces of ore had to be crushed by hand (Figure 9) using a sledge hammer on a stone block. We originally wanted particle sizes up to 20 mm, and later on reduced the size to 10 mm. The crushed ore was then sifted. It is not usually necessary to roast oxidic ores, but according to numerous experiments this very simple operation was very useful and was regularly applied in early bloomeries. The reasons were physical rather than chemical: the surface became porous and therefore more easily attacked by reducing gases. A simple roasting pile, consisting of chopped logs in crossed layers, was erected on a lOO-cmsquare metal sheet. The third layer of wood was covered with an ore charge, and then log and ore layers were alternated up to a height of 65-70 cm. We placed in the pile a total of 40 kg of ore. After three-quarters of an hour another 20 kg of ore was put in; at the height of 35 em, new log layers were added and the third charge of ore was spread on the surface (Figure 9). The operation took 6 hours and 15 minutes, about 250 kg of wood and 185 kg of ore (haematite) were used, and the weight of ore after roasting was 174 kg. This operation was repeated in roasting pile II (rectangular, height 55 cm) which burned for 3 hours and consumed 74 kg of ore and 150 kg of wood (weight loss 4 kg). The roasted ore was magnetic (Fea04)' During roasting the first phase of reduction took place. Tables IV and V summarize the roasting of the ore. The Kiruna D ore was used without roasting.
Table IV Composition of the tested haematite
haematite unroasted (Vitkovice analysis) haematite roasted haematite roasted (sample from furnace I; not reduced) tr = trace - = not determined
Table V __. Roasting Dimensions, ern Pile I. Ore, kg charge
250 150 400
185 74 259
174 70 244
Various measurements were made during the smeltings: rate of gas flow, gas analysis and temperature (both the latter measured at short intervals). Fuel and ore charges were also weighed in advance. A rotameter-? was installed between the mouth of the bellows and the tuyere. Calibrated apparatus showed a rate of flow of 42 liters/min. The temperature at various positions of the three control points (see section 3.1) was measured by platinum and platinum-rhodium thermocouples in silica protecting tubes at intervals of 20 to 30 min. A millivoltmeter served as indicator. Reducing gases could be analyzed immediately by a chromatograph. The sample was taken through a water-cooled metal tube. The chromatograph, with an automatic registrator, was a prototype built by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Hydrogen was used as the transporting gas. Indication: by conductivity cells equipped with an 0·03-mm platinum wire-" (Figure 10).
As a rule the furnaces were preheated overnight and the smelting proper started the next morning. Furnace III (Scharmbeck) was preheated in the morning and the smelting followed in the afternoon.
7.1. Smelt 1 in furnace I (Zelechovice type). Flame-drying started at 6 : 45 pm. The front tunnel was closed with sun-dried loess bricks except for a small hole (diameter 10 cm). At 8 : 40 pm the whole shaft was filled up with charcoal and the throat covered by a metal sheet. The preheating continued until 6 : 40 am, new charcoal was added and the hole in the front tunnel opened. The blowing began at 8 : 30 am when the first charge of ore and charcoal (1 : 1·16) was put in. That was the point at which all measurements began. Other charges followed at 10-15 minute intervals, and sank through the shaft. The temperature in the throat was 700-800°C, and that at the tuyere mouth level was 1100-1200°C. The air supply was about 21 liters/minute. The initial CO/C02 ratio was very good, and before noon it was much better; at point 2, CO = 25% and CO2 = ,__, Then, unfortunately, the good progress of the smelt wa~jnterrupted by an 3%. accident with one of the cooling tubes of the gas analysis apparatus. Water got into the furnace. Temperatures decreased rapidly, as did the amount of CO, while the CO2 increased to ,__, 2%. 1 We put this defect in order very soon, but the reducing process stabilized very slowly. At last, at 16. Kindly lent by the Fuel Research Institute, Prague. 17. A constant quantity of gis (specimen) is drawn off and it passes then through a column with molecular screen.
After a certain time the individual gases evolve into conducting cells, where due to the changed thermal conductivity they deflect the ressistance bridge with a Pt-wire, This change is indicated by a registrator (compensatory millivoltmeter). The calculation of the contents of the corresponding gas is based on the height of the peak.
12 : 30 pm, the temperature began to rise at the lower control points (Figure 5), as did the CO content: at 1 : 00 pm the temperature at point 3 was 1180°C and the CO concentration was 7·52%. After 2 : 00 pm slag covered point 3 and the temperature there reached 900°C. The centre of the process rose slightly: the temperature at point 2 was l464°C, the highest temperature measured. The air supply after the accident was 28-37 liters/min. But the fluctuation in gas composition was relatively high; certain stabilization did not occur before 4 : 00 - 5 : 00 pm (CO = nearly 30%). Because a flame appeared over the furnace throat at that point we decided to add some wet charcoal. At 4 : 15 pm slag was observed in the front tunnel, and the temperature began to drop. Shortly before 6 pm we stopped the blowing (2 more ore charges were added after that point). From 7 : 20 pm on the furnace was left alone. The furnace was dismantled two days later; the southern part was removed along the longitudinal axis, the section sketched and photographed (Figure 10). Nearly all the charcoal in the shaft and the hearth had burnt out. The lining near the tuyere mouth and in the cavity had oollapsed.v The lining in the shaft had dunted in certain spots, but on the whole its refractoriness was very good. The inside of the shaft on the tuyere side was heavily slagged (up to 45 em from the mouth); on the opposite side of the shaft the slagging only reached 25 em from the shaft entrance. This documents the temperature distribution and shows clearly the zone of the highest gloam. A big ball of slag-iron (19'8 kg) hung from the lower part of the shaft into the hearth (Figure 5 and 10). Pieces of unreduced iron ore from the first charge were found under the slag tips. Several pieces of unreduced ore could also be observed above the slag conglomerate; these were what remained of the last charges when the slag was about to solidify. The data relating to this smelt are given in Table VI. The iron yield cannot be stated, since the slag contained metallic grains and fibers which we did not succeed in separating. Although because of the accident with the gas tube the whole smelt was not successful, it brought useful results and could be considered a preliminary smelt.
7.2. Smelt 1 in furnace II (Zelechovicetype). Drying started at 4 pm and at 8 pm the furnace was filled with charcoal. It was not hermetically closed and in the morning we found live coals and were thus able to add a new charge. Blowing began at 7 : 25 am: the shaft was filled with charcoal and the front tunnel closed. At 8 am regular charges of ore and charcoal went in. The air supply at this point was 30 liters/min; a little later it was about 25 liters/min. Measurements were made as in the case of furnace I. It should be noted that the mouths of the control points did not touch the very middle of the inner space, so that the temperatures measured (up to 1076°C) are lower than those in the tuyere zone. The smelt continued more regularly, but both temperature and gas composition fluctuated (Figure 13). We decided that this was due to the size of the charcoal pieces, which prevented a homogeneous CO concentration, and we therefore reduced the dimensions of the charcoal to 20-30 mm. The shaft was tested by an iron bar. These repeated interventions, including the numerous measuring operations, seem to have influenced the process unfavorably. The course of the smelt was at its best after noon (CO at point 3 = 36%). The space near the cavity was white-hot (about 1300°C; exact measurement of the temperature there was impossible). At that point we decided not to continue with the ore charges. We tried to reheat and carburize the reduced sponge iron. The shaft was filled with beech charcoal; the front tunnel was closed except for a small hole, and the throat of the shaft was also covered. Several charcoal charges were added. At 3 : 40 pm the operation was completed and the furnace was dismantled immediately thereafter. Pieces of slag and iron sponge were removed through the tunnel with the aid of hooks, and were immediately forged on a wooden block with a wooden hammer. Solidifying slag cracked and fell out. Some fragments were separated with a magnet after cooling. Three stages in the formation of the iron bloom be observed: 1. isolated grains in the slag mass (Figure 16 : 1), 2. iron sheets and cells including charcoal pieces, 3. more compact fragments of sintered bloom. For the material consumption and other data see Table VI. The weight of
18. These very stressed parts remained untouched in original furnaces succeed to acquire the skill of ancient smelters in this respect. uncovered at Zelechovice. We did not
Fig. 7. Building the charcoal pile.
iron was approximated to be moref than 2 kg, but only a few pieces could be forged. This smelt was not completely perfect, as it was unfinished, but the metallographic investigations on the samples brought jvery important results. 7.3. Smelt 2 in furnace II ( /!,elechovice type). The tuyere zone having been damaged during smelt 1, furnace II was rebuilt and the front tunnel thus shortened. The construction the same (Figure 3). After our previous experience we decided to disturb the natural course of the smelt as little as possible. No gas analyses were made, since their composition was already' known and repeated sampling might have caused the fluctuations. The temperature was measured as before, and the control hole again faced the cooler part of the shaft. The main heat was just behind the tuyere mouth (at least 1200 to 1300°C). The work started at 6: 00 in the evening. The furnace was preheated overnight. Only a small hole (5 em) in the front was left open. At 7 : 15 am the next morning the smelting began. The air supply was about 26·5 liters/min. According to the plot of temperature and charges, the course of the smelt was very stable and regular. The ratio of ore to fuel (a combiFig. 8. Building the pile. Below: burning pile after 30 hours. nation of pine and beech charcoal) was 4·5 : 5. The pressure was very high in the furnace at about 11 am. The slag did not flow into the front tunnel but into the back cavity where the iron bloom was created simultaneously (Figure 3). The last (forty-fourth) charge of ore was put in at 2 : 30 pm. The shaft was then filled with fuel and the forced draught was reduced to 11·2 liters/min and later on to 7 liters/min. At 4 : 15 pm the blowing was stopped. Several charges of charcoal followed. A big conglomerate of iron at yellow heat was observed in the back cavity. The time since the last charges of ore up to the removal of the product (more than 2 hours) was considered the reheating phase of the process, connected with the sweating out of the slag. Putting the product into the back cavity was not necessary after all19 (Figure 3). Upon dismantling the furnace we found a huge mass in the back cavity. It could be seen that the iron was situated above the slag. First several fragments (11, 7 and 4·5 kg) were taken off the furnace and then, after taking apart some of the front wall, we removed the main bloom. The iron sponge (2·41 kg) was cut out from the conglomerate with a chisel and was then quenched
19. R. Pleiner 1958, 220-221, Fig. 58.
in water. The data for the smelt are given in Table VI. The yield on the separated iron ore was about 5 kg, about 25% of the iron content of the ore. This yield is comparable with the productivity of the ancient bloomery process. But only about 2·5 kg of the iron was fit for forging due to our lack of the necessary skill. The zones of the iron sheet network in the slag indicate that the reheating process was not completed; perhaps 4-5 hours instead of 2 are necessary for this process.
Table VI Ore, kg Furnace/smelt haem. Kiruna D drying & reheating Consumption of raw materials Coal, kg smelting pine 50 29 37 25 141 Fe, kg Yield
Zelechovice I Zelechovice II.l Zelechovice 11.2 Scharmbeck Total:
47 23 44 0 114
0 0 0 23·5 23·5
50 50 50 10 160
23 2 44
,....,2 ",,6 ,....,8
7.4. Smelt in furnace III (Scharmbeck type). Drying and preheating were finished at noon of the same day on which they had been begun. At 1 : 30 pm the first ore (Kiruna D magnetite) and fuel charge was put in. The shaft was filled up only to control point 1. We had intended to test this furnace by induced draught, but the process went on so slowly (maximum temperature 1042°C at control point 3 and 650°C at control point 2; CO content at 4 pm only 6%) that it became evident that this sort oj are could not be smelted in this type offurnace by induced draught. We therefore tried to introduce forced draught (21 liters/min). After this change the temperature increased to l445°C at control point 3 and the CO concentration reached 23-25% shortly after 5 pm. At 6 : 00 a flame was seen at the top of the furnace and fluid red slag was observed at some control points, but pieces of unreduced ore appeared in the hole opposite the tuyere. Blowing was stopped at 6 : 33 pm and the furnace was allowed to cool overnight. On the next day the position of the slag ball on the shaft was determined (Figure 4). The slag was situated above the tuyere, and close to it were some pieces of unreduced ore. The bowl hearth was full of charcoal: as expected, no reaction took place in the bowl, and the slag did not go in. The furnace wall was only slightly attacked by the slag. Although all samples of the slag conglomerate were magnetic, no iron sponge could be found and no entrained metallic iron could be separated from the slag mass. Thus this smelt could not be considered successful; the following conclusions, however, could be drawn: 1. A Scharrnbeck-type furnace (i.e., bowl-shaft furnace) was not suitable with only induced draught if too compact ore was used; 2. Furnaces of this and similar types were used to smelt light reducible iron ores (bog iron ores, for instance, but not compact magnetites); 3. The air supply may have been too intense in relation to the size of the working space in the furnace; much of the iron was transformed into slag (Figure 15).
Extensive forging experiments were not included in the program proper, and the results of forging of the reduced iton must not be considered as representing the best technique. A simple smithy with a hearth (bowl) and bellows had been built in the northern part of the bloomery, and an anvil and blacksmith's tools were available. 471
8.1. Forging of some iron grains from smelt 11.1. Two iron pieces were heated to red heat. One of them was forged into a small cube (Figure 16 : 2) and the other into the shape of a plate. The forging was not very easy. The reason for this became clear after the metallographic investigation (Figure 16 : 3-5); neither piece consisted of iron sponge, but rather of isolated crystallites in slag, not yet sintered together. 8.2. Welding together of iron particles in a crucible. A technique of collecting small iron grains and pieces and sintering them together in clay crucibles has been reported in west Africa.w On the Yos plain in Nigeria smelters collected small fragments of smelted iron, covered them with a handful of refractory clay and put them into the smith's forge. After some time they broke the clay ball and the red iron was welded together in the shape of a plate. Ferrite and some traces of nitrides have been found in such a plate.P In an attempt to imitate this process, we mixed some iron sheets and grains together with charcoal powder and covered the mixture with clay. However, the clay melted in the forge and the iron it contained was completely oxidized (burnt). This experiment, while not successful, again demonstrates that many primitive operations required a high degree of skill and control over all aspects of the process.
The following materials were analyzed chemically= and metallographically: roasted ore, slag with metallic iron content, pieces containing so-called iron sheets, fragments of sponge iron and, finally, the big "bloom" from smelt 11.2. 9.1. Analytical methods. Specimens of ore were analyzed chemically (see above). The same method was used for the metals; phosphorus and manganese contents were determined by the gravimetric method, copper and nickel contents by the polarographic method (0 - 1·4 V). In addition to the chemical analysis of iron, metallographic investigations were carried out. Unless otherwise noted, polished specimens were etched in nital. The specimen numbers correspond to the book of analyses kept in the Archaeological Institute in Prague. Specimen 270, part of the large bloom from smelt 11.2, was etched in Oberhoffer's reagent in order to distinguish phosphorus segregation. The microhardness of different structures was determined on a Hanemann apparatus (using loads of 10 and 30 g). The slag was chemically analyzed and subjected to petrographic examination as well. 9.2. Metallographic investigation of the reduced metal. Ten specimens from different smelts (excepting that in furnace I) were examined. They included all phases in the development of the bloom, from isolated grains through spongy iron sheets up to the more compact iron bloom. 9.2.1. Six specimens from smelt lI.1 were studied. Specimen 261 is the slag from the shaft and contains isolated grains or crystallites of ferrite (diameter up to 1 mm). These crystallites (Figure 16 : 1) have slag inclusions, too, but their shape is globular, not deformed by forging. Ferrite grains of size 3-4 (ASTM), microhardness 120-135 dphn, show only slight traces of pearlite. Sintering with other grains is the primary process by which iron is extracted from oxides. Specimen 262 was taken from a piece of iron sponge distant from the tuyere mouth. It contains thin iron fibers (actually sections of sheets and plates) surrounding pieces of charcoal (Figure 16 :6). The thickness of these sheets, which cross the iron sponge in several places, is 0·02-0·1 mm.
20. F. von Luschan, Eisentechnik in Afrika, Zeitschr, f. Ethnol. 41, 1909, 40 sq.; L. Carl - J. Petit) Une technique archaique de la fabrication du fer dans le Mourdi (Sahara Oriental), L'Ethnographie, N. S. no. 50 1955, 77. 21. Specimens of the contents in crucibles as well as of the forged slag were analyzed by R. F. Tylecote. They are to be found at the Department of Metallurgy, University of Newcastle. Thanks to Prof. Tylecote I was able to study them in his Institute. 22. The analytic method is described in the enclosure of the research report (Arch. Inst. Prague, No 6163/67).
Fig. 9. Preparing ore. Above: crushing and sieving. Below: roasting under reducing conditions.
They consist offerrite grains (microhardness 182 dphn). More compact parts contain much pearlite (60-70%, carbon contentapproximately 0·3%, microhardness 283-297 dphn). Phosphorus content was 0·90% and copper content was 0·11 %. The carburization was due to the CO and not the solid carbon from the charcoal pieces. Carburized steel was found only in the more compact parts of the specimen - never in the thin sheets surrounding the charcoal. 473
Specimen 264 contained ferrite (microhardness 127 dphn) and pearlite (microhardness254dphn), Widmannsta tten structure, and globular slag inclusions. In other locations pearlite lamellae are spheroidized. It is hard to estimate the ca~hon content. The specimen represents a sort of mild steel. Specimen 266 corresponds to a part of the iron sponge in which the grains are not sintered together. Specimen 268 is a small forged plate (40 X 35 X 4·5 mm) (Figure 6 : 3). Many laps and slag inclusions can be found on its polished surface. The metal was not compact, but consisted of slightly sintered iron grains (ferrite, microhardness 175-182 dphn). Continued forging at the sinking temperature effected the deformation of ferrite grains. The piece tested contained unsintered ferritic sponge as well as some carburized steel. In one place the grains were completely sintered and welded (structure: pearlite, ferrite network and needles, microhardness 257-276 dphn) and the pearlite lamellae were destroyed. Partial chemical analysis for this sample was: P: 0·07%, Cu: trace, Mn: 0·10% (slag inclusions). Specimen 269 is a forged cube; structure: unsintered ferritic grains. 9.2.2. From smelt II.2 fragments of the "sheet sponge", some more compact parts of the sponge, and the so-called "bloom" could be examined. Specimen 263 is a fragment of Fig. 10. Above: chromatograph for analysing gases. Below: section of the Slavic furnace I after the smelt and cooling. the sheet sponge which has surrounding pieces of charcoal. Some of the sheet plates appearing in the micrographs as fibers consisted of sintered ferrite grains (microhardness 182 dphn) or strips of isolated ferrite grains (microhardness 133 dphn ; Figure 16 : 6_:_7). Specimen 265 - similar to specimen 263. Specimen 267 was a fragment of the main bloom. The metal was very porous and rich in slag inclusions. Structure: pearlite and ferrite cells (Figure 19 : 1). Only small parts were decarburized and transformed into ferrite (Figure 19 : 2-4). Microhardness: pearlite 313 dphn, ferrite fibers 234 dphn, ferrite in the decarburized zone 151 dphn. The sample tested was a hard carbon steel with a very high primary carburization unexposed to the air stream. 474
Specimen 270 is the main iron sponge or "bloom" cut out from the slag ball. It was taken from the back cavity of the furnace, where it had been reheated for two hours. Only a small part of the bloom contained unsintered grains (Figure 17, Figure 18 : 1). The red-hot product was quenched in cold water. The bloom, which was fiat and irregular, with many sharp points, was cut in two with a diamond cutoff wheel. Sections of both parts were polished and investigated. Most of the metal was relatively compact, and had many slag inclusions. The zone which consisted of isolated ferrite grains appeared only on one side of the bloom (Figure 18: 2). Dimensions: length 230 mm, width 150 mm, width in the zone sectioned 100 mrn, maximum height 65 mm, average height 10-20mm; weight 2·41 kg. Macroscopic examination after etching with nital revealed that most of the surface was steel; only several tips were decarburized (Figure 17). The carbon content varied a little, but the inhomogeneity was not quite as bad as in many original fragments of prehistoric blooms. The phosphorus distribution was much more inhomogeneous, as revealed by Oberhoffer's reagent. Phosphorus was concentrated in the carbon-free zones as well as in the middle 0 f the steel structure (Figure 17). The high variability of the phosphorus content was due to its segregation in the metal. Although only two specimens were analyzed from smelt IIf2, and the exact distribu tion of the phosphorus could not be reproduced, considerable segregation was evident. 23 The
23. A considerable inhomogeneity with regard to the distribution of the P-content was stated in an unforged
Fig. 11. Above: Shaft of the Roman period shaft type furnace. Below: bowl-shaped hearth of same.
Table VII -
Analytical results of various products
Fernet A120a P20S
roasted not red. Smelt. I Smelt. I Smelt. II.! lining Smelt. II.2
-8·27 69·64 68·20 7·20
-1-87 0·89 1·84
-0·40 0·27 0·43
-0·30 0·50 0·30
14·87 0·69 31·24
7·86 1·36 7'10
0·00 0·00 0·00
0·00 20·50 0·00 0·91
Hm / max./ min. 120
isol. grains in slag network 11.1
ferrite ferrite pearlite ferro ntw. ferro grains ferrite pearlite ferrite martensite cementite ferrite pearlite
-network 11.2 Iron 175 133 151 313
-0·11 tr 0·00
-247 486 1355
267 616 1310
--forged iron 182 257
I 0·07 I 0·10
chemical analysis of the individual specimens (0'07-0·15% P) is consistent with the 3·34-0·68% of the P 205 in the ore. Microscopic investigation: as already mentioned, only tips of the bloom (presumably those adjacent to the tuyere mouth) had the ferritic structure. There is a slow transition from the ferritic-pearlitic zone to a pearlitic or martensitic zone (Figure 19). The microhardness of the ferrite was very high (247-267 dphn). In other parts of the bloom there was a hard martensitic or bainitic structure of quenched high-carbon steel (microhardness 486-616 dphn). Ferrite needles (microhardness 234-321 dphn) and cementite needles (microhardness 1355-1810 dphn; Figure 19) were found in certain spots. In those spots which were spontaneously tempered by the heat of the body, the structure was pearlitic or sorbitic (rnicrohardness 310-390 dphn; diameter
slag from the surroundings of Kowel, cf. A. Mazur - E. Nosek, Metaloznawcze badania staroiytnej lupki ielaznej (res. Resultats de l'examen d'une ancienne loupe de fer), Materialy Archeologiczne (Cracow) VI 1965, 109-116; the contents in phosphorus fluctuated from 0,07 up to 1,08% P. The bloom may have possibly been extracted from the ore high in P - microphotographs show a phosphorus eutecticum, cf. figs 3, 5-6. With the segregation of ph osphorus deals J. Piaskowski in his study Correlation between the phosphorus content in iron ore or slag and that in bloomery iron, Archaeo1ogia Po1ona 8 1965, 83-103, cf. 95-97; Piaskowski follows, however, the segragation of phosphorus only in ready- mades, i.e. in forged metal. Thus he receives much lower inhomogeneity than with unforged bloom. This fact proves analogically the inhomogeneity in the C content in unforged bloom or iron sponge and in forged artifacts.
341·1 microns). It may be stated that the bloom is a eutectoid carbon steel. We intend to carry out a set of forging experiments to discover the properties of this metal after finishing simple artifacts (e.g., knives). 9.3. Mineralogical investigations of slags. The most important samples are those of the smelt in furnace I (specimens la-b, 22). They could be taken from the exactly known places of the conglomerate in the cool furnace. The choice of the slag material from the furnace II (smelt 2) was
1500 1400 1300 l;l 1200
1000 900 BOO 100 600 500
\I \. ·f',
~ I \. V \. I
blok'ing slopped ..
~ t ~ ~ ~
1000 900 800 100 600 500 point 2 A point 3A
-.point18 =poinl2B _ ...... point JB
.... _- COJ
20 10 0
vI \, 1\..J ,}..-"/\
CO pomt28= point38--
'.- ........ - '.
pain t 28 00000,00000 CO, point38 _.. _ ore charges
1 B 9
12 13 lime
1 8 9 10 11 12 13 g 15
Fig. 12. Graphical representation of the smelt in the furnace I.
Fig. 13. Graphical representation of the smelt 1, furnace II.
very difficult as the furnace had been broken out gloaming. The location of the specimen (no 24) is not exact, but this slag comes from the close neighbourhood of the bloom. The slag no 13 is from the body on the wall of the furnace III, .near from the tuyere mouth. All samples were investigated by M. Bartuska on thin sections and polished blocks and checked by the X-ray diffraction analysis (J. Seveu). The latter method was applied under the following parameters: apparatus Mikrometa I, method Guinier-de Wolff, tension 30 kv, intensity 25 ma, exposed 20 hours, Cu-radiation, 9.3.1. Slag from the furnace I. Samples from the upper part of the solidified conglomerate were identified as magnetitic-flayalitic slag in which the opaque magnetite was the main component (80-95% of the thin section): Between the magnetite areas there was observed the silicate melt with fayalite (5-20%). This was represented by elongated idiomorphic or hypidiomorphic crystals (length 0·16-1·2 mm), whereas in the sample no. Ib short prismatic and very fine fayalite crystals (length 0·01-0·03 mm) occurred. In the case of the specimen lagrains and dendrites of magnetite 477
(length 0·01-0·3 mm) even in the fayalite areas were stated. Slag from the lower drops of the conglomerate is quite different. Its main component is wiistite FeO (50-60%), fayalite amounts to 40-50%. Wiistite occurs sometimes in allotriomorphic grains or in form of dendrites. Elongated fayalite (length 0·15-1·5 mm) could be also observed among wiistite. Instead of magnetite a glassy matrix filling the intercrystaline space was stated. The amount of this glassy mass did
1500 1400 temperature point
1300 1200 1100
~ 1100 ~ 1000
900 800 100 600 500
,a,;lYgU,rS<d br .i.: \
~ 1000 E ~ 800
'rI I I I
brea kl ng
0/0 ; ~g ./.V·
9 10 11 12 13 lime 14 15 16 11 18 19
_.... ~ .
18 19 20 draught
Fig. 14. Graphical representation furnace II.
of the smelt 2,
Fig. 15. Graphical representation of the smelt inthe furnace III.
not exceed 5%. The lower slag was much more reduced than the upper one. The X-ray diffraction test confirmed the proportion of magnetite, fayalite and wustite, In addition to that there was stated also haematite, but only in traces (Fig. 20). 9.3.2. The slag sample of the smelt in the furnace II was taken in the red heat. Most of inform ation offered the polished block. On its surface fayalite (about 40%) was visible. About 50% represent two different opaque phases: metallic iron (partly sintered iron sponge, ca 30%) and oval grains or dendrites of wustite (14-20%). The remain (ca 10%) is a solidified glassy phase containing also some areas of secondarily crystallized very fine eutectic fayalite (Fig. 21 : 1). 9.3.3. The slag sample from the furnace III (the shaft of the Scharrnbeck type) is very analogical - when considering its mineralogical composition - to the slag sample of the smelt II/2. Oval grains or dendrites of wustite represent the main component, but the occurrence of iron crystallites or iron sponge is quite common as well. Only the quantity of fayalite is much lower, about 10% (Fig. 21 : 2). Its face is short prismatic or allotriomorphic. The proportion of the glassy mass is also ca 10%. In the thin section there were discovered small furnace wall fragments just in this glassy phase (quartz grains cemented by mica-muscovite and clay). The slag penetrates 478
Fig. 16. Metallographic investigation: smelt 11.1, isolated crystallites with ferrite grains in the slag, etched by nital, 100 x , 2 preliminary forging test with a piece of iron, smelt 11.1, 2 X • 3 preliminary forging test, a small iron plate, the same smelt, 2 X, 4 transition area between the more compact part and isolated grains in the forged plate, ferrite and darker areas of pearlite with ferritic network, etched by nital, 50 x. 5 deformed white ferritic grains in the cold hammered part of the same plate, etched by nital, 50 x. 6 ferritic sheet-shaped sponge surrounding pieces of charcoal, smelt 11.1, 1 : 1. 7 section of the sheet-shaped ferritic structure, etched by nital, lax.
ito» of phosphorlls Oberhoffer
Fig. 17. Scheme of the polished section of the bloom from the smelt II.2. Above: distribution of the carbon content (dark), etched by nita!. Below: segregation of phosphorus (dark), etched after Oberhoffer. Crossed areas: parts with sponge iron and isolated grains of ferrite. 2·5 X .
into these corpuscles, thus enabling the crystallization of wiistite dendrites in those areas (Fig. 21 : 3-4). 9.3.4. From the mineralogical point of view - when comparing various types of bloomery slag - the specimens no. 24 (smelt 1I.2) and no. 13 (furnace III) are not quite typical, because of a big amount of metallic iron. This is quite clear in the first case, because the specimen originated in the vicinity of the main iron bloom. What concerns the second case there must be taken into 480
account that in the furnace III the metallic sponge was not separated from the slag at all, as explained in the part 7'4 of the present paper. This smelt was not normal so that an unusual feature of the slag-and-iron was also to be expected. Very important are the differences between the specimens 1a-b and 22 which all come from the same furnace and from the same smelt. Only places of taking from the conglomerate were different. In the upper layers prevails magnetite - this fact corresponds to the course of the metallurgical process, but due to same the slag is very similar to the texture of the so-called "smith's slags", whereas the structure of the normal final slag in the bottom resembles the original archaeological slags found in bloomery sites. The occurrence of metallic iron in such slags uses to be rather rare (never prevalent) ; it is a real vaste product in form of a reduced slag mass. The test smelting of rich haematite ore without adding any fluxes and without tapping the slag brought very unhomogeneous slag conglomerate. Further studies on the developing of various slag components would, however, be necessary. But it seems to be clear that during the initial phases of building the slag in the blommery furnace the texture of the vaste product is somewhat similar to the texture of the stuff resulting in the blacksmith's forge during the heating of iron and adding sandy or clay materials. This means that the distinguishing of the bloomery or the so-called smithing slag exclusively on the base of their chemical or mineralogical composition and without considering the form and field circumstances of the object in question is very difficult, if not impossible. Both sorts can result from one and the same smelt, as it has been just shown.
10. Conclusions The results of the smelting experiments organized at Bfezno in 1964 can be divided into three main categories: a) information on the types of protohistoric furnaces tested, b) information on the bloomery process in general, c) information on the possibility of producing steel under ancient conditions. 10.1. Yield. The problem of the yield of iron in experimental furnaces is to be considered as a secondary one at the present stage of research. The purpose of the present tests is not to produce but to observe. The yield of furnaces I and III and of smelt II.1 was minimal with regard to the real production of iron. Smelt II.2 was not bad when compared with the capacity of the bloomery process (yield not much over 30%); the yield was about 25% of the iron in the ore. Only part of the reduced iron, however, could be forged. According to our experience, the principal difficulties during the experimental smelts were: I) too little practical experience in working with various types of furnaces, and 2) too frequent measurements, which must have greatly influenced the stability of the process in these relatively small furnaces (e.g., partial opening of the control hole every five minutes). 10.2. Remarks on the individual smelts. Zelechovice-type furnaces proved to be an excellent metallurgical apparatus of an ingenious construction. Its shape permits good filling of charges - they form a pouring cone right in the hearth, and following charges are then automatically transported into the cavity behind the tuyere. There is, moreover, the center of the heat in which the product is protected from reoxidation by the incoming air. The carbon content of the reduced iron was quite high. The charcoal used during the smelts with furnace I and during smelt II.I was often large enough to block the narrow mouth of the shaft just above the hearth. In order to fill the shaft it was often necessary to tamp the charcoal down with an iron bar; this must have influenced the gas composition, and probably caused the irregularity in the reduction process. When, in smelt II.2, the size of the charcoal was reduced, the results were much better. The size of the pieces of ore also had azreat influence on the completeness of reduction: large pieces passed through the reduction zone very quickly and were not attacked by the reducing atmosphere (especially during the first phases of the smelt). It would be desirable to experiment with a small hole which could be opened in the front tunnel in the course of the reheating operation after the 481
Fig. 18. Microstructures of the bloom from the smelt 11.2 (specimen 270). I white ferrite grains in the spongeous area (crossed on Fig. 17), dendrites of wtistite, fayalite, etched by picrate of sodium, 100 x. 2 decarburized tip of the bloom, ferrite and inclusions, etched by nital, 300 x. 3 transitional area with pearlite, nita!, 300 x , 4 the same, ferrite, pearlite, etched by nita!, 300 X .
smelt. This hole might have served for permanent slag tapping during reheating in the further development of furnaces of a similar type. In the case of the Zelechovice-type furnaces, all the slag went into the back cavity. It is possible that tapping was not practiced. No smelt in the Zelechovice-type furnaces can be considered to be complete as regards the reheating process, during which the bloom or iron sponge formed. This process was at its best 482
Fig. 19. Microstructures of the bloom from the smelt 11.2 (specimen 270). 1 carburized area, dark pearlite, white ferrite, etched by nita1, 550 X , 3 dark needles and network of cementite, etched by picrate of sodium C6Hz(NOz)30Na, 200 X, 3 dark martensite, white cementite, etched by nital, 300 x, 4-5 martensite, dark spots of troostite, white cementite needles, 300 x. 6 troostite and two different areas of martensite, traces of cementite, etched by nital, 300 X •
in smelt II.2. However, it appears necessary to extend the reheating process even further, perhaps to about one-third of the smelting period. A characteristic feature of the Zelechovice furnace was its general assymetry. The measured temperatures cannot represent the peak temperatures in the exposed places; they must have been much higher (especially in the case of furnace II). 10.3. Remarks on the smelt in the Scharmbeck-typefurnace. This was a variant of a bowl-shaft furnace (without a means of tapping slag). The dimensions of the hearth (bowl) were derived from analo.gies, as the remains were not found in situ; the existence of such a hearth is indicated by several 483
slag balls (Schlackenklotze) in the same locality. Because the clay used in the walls differed from that in the original furnace= and also because they were too thin, the walls of the furnace cracked. It was not possible to use an induced draught with this type of furnace, especially with the kind of ore we used. A shaft-type furnace possessed many properties favorable for the forced-draught technique. The bowl-shaft type was suitable for smelting easily-reducible sorts of iron ore (bog iron ores, brown ores, etc.), and the thin-walled shaft was sufficient. 10.4. General remarks. a) Making charcoal in small piles presented rro problem; smelters could easily have made their charcoal themselves, if the smelting activity was not too extensive. b) Small pieces (about 20 mm) of charcoal must be discarded; no dust can be admitted in fuel charges. c) Easily smeltable iron ores have many advantages, but furnaces of the Zelechovice type were also able to reduce haematites. Roasting of the ore - which is a very easy operation - seems to have been advantageous in all cases. d) The maximum size of ore pieces for bloomeries with small apparatus is about 10 mm. e) There is an optimum amount of air during the smelt for each type of furnace. If the air supply is not sufficient the temperature is too low; too great air supply results in considerable losses of iron which is transformed into slag. The optimum air supply for the Zelechovice furnace was 25-28 liters/min. 21 liters/min. was apparently too much for the Scharmbeck furnace. The temperatures necessary for a successful bloomery process are 1200 to l400°C. Only under these conditions it is possible to separate the reduced metal from the slag. f) The course of the smelt must be as regular as possible. Fluctuations of any kind are to be avoided - for instance, all interventions of a rod. "More measuring, less iron - less measuring, more iron" - this rule should be respected during experimental smelts. g) Reheating after the smelt is unavoidable. In certain types of furnaces the bloom could be reheated immediately after the smelt (Zelechovice). In other cases this process was carried out in special hearths. The process takes a relatively long time, and reducing conditions are absolutely necessary. h) Slag tapping is a difficult operation which requires real skill on the part of the smelter. It is not absolutely necessary, but may bring about a better yield. i) Reforging of the bloom is also difficult; its investigation must be the object of specially designed experiments. j) Under certain conditions it is possible to obtain high-carbon steel in primitive bloomery furnaces. The next section is devoted to this problem. 10.5. Steel production in the protohistoric bloomery process. Steel, which, according to former terminology is a considerably carburized iron, occurred rarely in antiquity or in the Middle Ages. This observation has been borne out by many metallographic investigations of ancient iron artifacts and some experimental smeltings carried out in several countries during the last few years." Nevertheless, objects made of steel have been found; this steel evidently was produced in metallurgical furnaces and not by secondary cementation.w During the 1950/51 excavation of the Zelechovice bloomery an unusual structural aspect of the furnaces drew our attention; they were all equipped with a cavity just behind the blast tuyere. This arrangement was hypothetically interpreted as a reheating and cementation chamber for the bloom, which would have been put there immediately after the smelt. The production of steel in such a type offurnace was therefore taken for granted;"
24. Neither mineralogical nor chemical analyses of specimens of the Scharmbeck shaft were carried out. Their exact composition remains therefore unknown. 25. R. Pleiner, Otazka pffrne vyroby ocele v protohistoricke technice (res. The problem of steel production in early bloomery), Kovove materialy 41966 (Bratislava), 208-220. The article quotes references relating to this question and to the preliminary results on the experiments at Brezno 1964. 26. With the problem of steel production in metallurgic furnaces by Slavs dealt ]. Piaskowski, 0 pierwotnym sposobie otrzymywania stali przes sredniowiecznych Slowian (only Polish, with an English titel: About the primordial method of steel winning by medieval Slavs), Hutnik 31/12 1964, 378-383. The author identified the steel with a higher P-content extracted from the bog iron ores as "dul". He limits, however, the problem of the steel production de facto only to Polish, eventually Russian, smelters. His opinion according to which the steel production increased after the introduction of clay pipe tuyeres (p. 382) has to be refused as not well-founded. 27. Cf. note 6.
Fig. 20. Mineralogical investigation of the slag. 1 slag from the smelt in the furnace r, upper part (specimen la), opaque black magnetite, grey crystallized area of fayalite, white voids, II x. 2 detail of the fayalite zone, black dendrites of magnetite, 132 x, both as thin sections. 3 slag from the same smelt, but from the bottom, dark grey fayalite and opaque wtistite, thin section, II x. 4 the same, polished block: light grey wustite, grey crystals offayalite, dark grey glassy matrix, 200 X .
The verification of that hypothesis was one of the main purposes of the 1964 tests. After six hours of smelting haematite ore (without manganese and with low phosphorus content - maximum 0·68% P) and pine charcoal in a copy of a Zelechovice furnace, the conglomerate was reheated under reduced air flow in the back cavity of the apparatus. The temperature in the chamber was estimated as 1300°C. The product was broken off at a red-white heat. The slag flowed through the pores of the spongy iron mass so that the latter could be cut out with a chisel. According to the metallographic investigation, the structure consisted of pearlite and a minimum of ferrite fibers or cementite grains: we had produced a high-carbon steel. Only small parts and tips were decarburized by the air flow. The hypothesis that the furnaces of Zelechovice produced steel thus found a splendid confirmation. Nevertheless, the original interpretation was not quite correct. It is impossible that the 2-cm-thick bloom could carburize after having been formed; it must have been sintered from a carboncontaining smelt. lng. E. Schiirmansi showed on the base of thermodynamical considerations the effective reducing and carburizing potential of CO and CO2 mixtures. In the temperature zone between 800° and 900°, if the mixture CO/CO CO2
Fig. 21. Mineralogical investigation of the slag. 1 Slag from the smelt 1I.2: white iron sponge, light grey dendrite of'wiistite, grey fayalite, dark grey glassy matrix with fine crystallized fayalite, polished block, 200 x. 2 Slag from the furnace III: white iron crystals, light grey wustite, dark grey fayalite, black strips of glassy mass, polished block, 200 X . 3 Slag from the furnace III, inclusion of the wall fragment in the opaque wiistite, white voids, thin section 11 X . 4 Detail of the inclusion, quartz grains, muscovite and black dendrites of the penetrating wiistite, thin section, 132X •
equals 0'95 per cent., it would carburize the iron to ca 0,8 per cent. C.28 H. Straube-» pointed to the mistakes in the traditional interpreting the difference between the direct and indirect process. It had been suggested that no greater carburization could be obtained at lower temperatures. A considerable carburization was the effect produced by every bloomery furnace (evidence given by samples of pig iron from prehistorical finds and smelting tests). The temperature in the furnace and the composition of the ore support or hinder this process (the higher content of manganese is positive, the higher content of phosphorus on the contrary has a negative influence). 30 This primary carburization was only very rarely found in the final product, as in most furnaces the bloom had to pass through a very dangerous zone of reoxidation near the tuyere mouth. The product was therefore wrought iron or a mild, very inhomogeneous steel.v' However, in Zelecho-
28. E. Schilrmann; Die Reduktion des Eisens im Rennfeuer, Stahl und Eisen 78 1958, 1927-1308, cf. 1300-1302. 29. H. Straube - B. Tarmann - E. Plockinger 1964, 12-17, 25-32. 30. R. Pleiner 1966. 31. This is proved by numerous forged pieces, the so-called bipointed bars (semi-products) and unforged bloom or the so-called "gra pic" (shot particles during forging). Various authors analyzed these objects in the recent time (lvI. Radwan, W. Rozanski, J. Piaskowski, A. Anteins etc.). Referencescf. R. Pleiner 1966.
vice-type furnaces, the reduced red-hot bloom passed ralaiiuely quickly through the oxidizing zone and slipped into the back cavity where the reheating process took place, under velY good reducing conditions. The bloom, surrounded by charcoal, was protected against blowing, and the properties of the carbon steel were retained. This result is in agreement with Straube's conclusions and offers important evidence about the technical ingenuity of early medieval smelters among the Moravian Slavs.
11. Acknowledgements In the successful course of the experimental work not only a considerable research staff but also many individuals and institutions contributed. The author of the present report would like to express his special thanks to them all. First, to the Polish scholars, the author's colleagues for many years and who have taken part in the experimental smelts since 1960, namely Prof. Ing. M: Radwan (Cracow), Dr. K. Bielenin (Archaeological Museum, Cracow) and Ing. E. Nosek (Archaeological Museum, Cracow). Special gratitude is due to Professor J. Filip, Director of the Archaeological Institute, Prague, for his kind attitude and to Prof. Ing. L. Jenicek, Prague, who willingly contributed valuable advice. Grateful acknowledgements are made to Ing. Bohus, Director of the Institute of Iron Metallurgy, Prague, for his material grant. I am much indebted to the members of this Institute who gave kind assistance during experiments when operating the measuring apparatus lent by the Institute: Ing. M. Hayer, I. Fischer and J. Pospisil. I further welcome this opportunity to express appreciation of the help given by Dr. J. Pelikan, the former HeadAssistant of the chemical laboratory of the Archaeological Institute. I am especially indebted to the chemical analyst C. Sedil!.Y, who rendered invaluable help in every respect. I also owe much to Mr. L. Kosnar, at that time an undergraduate in prehistory at the Caroline University. Numerous photographs were taken by Mr. A. Kleibl, the photographer of the Archaeological Institute. Special thanks are, of course, due to Dr. 1. Pleinerooti, who directed the expedition and the fieldwork at Brezno. Without her kind assistance it would never have been possible to bring about such laborious field work, involving more than twenty people. Gratitude is also due to Mr. J. Simunek, the custodian of the Museum at Louny, who kindly secured and lent the necessary bellows. It was of great advantage to rely on the help of the experienced master smith Mr. Kastner, of Louny. Even after finishing the fieldwork we willingly accepted the help and assistance rendered by some institutions and research workers. I would like to record my thanks f.i. to Ing. J. Voboiil, Director of the Metallographic Department of the Research Institute for Testing Materials, and to the members of this same Institute, Mr. J. Douda and Mrs. Hublnkood (microphotographs, hardness tests). These all merit the author's utmost gratitude, as does his old friend and colleague Doc. Dr. M. Bartuska, Department of Silicate Technology at the Technical High School, Prague. X-ray diffraction tests were kindly carried out by Dr. J. Sevcu, Research Institute of Mineral Resources in Kutna Hora. Finally I am deeply indebted to Dr. D. H. Avery, Division of Engeneering, Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, for the kind reading the manuscript. Reviewed by Ing, Dr. L. Jenicek.
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